Nigerian authorities on Wednesday warned that the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) militant group could be recruiting fighters in Africa’s most populous country, urging citizens to report any “suspicious” activities or persons to security agencies.
“ISIL scouts could be in the country to raise fighters,” Mike Omeri, coordinator of Nigeria’s National Information Center for Counterterrorism, said in a statement.
“Nigerians are advised to report to security agencies, without hesitation, any group or non-governmental agency whose overt or covert activities are suspicious or have tendencies to jeopardize the innocence of our youth and the security of our people,” Omeri asserted.
The ISIL recently seized vast swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, prompting the United States and its allies to launch a massive air campaign against ISIL targets in both countries.
Omeri cited “intelligence reports” suggesting that the ISIL had a presence in Africa where it hoped to recruit fighters.
Omeri said the Nigerian government was leaving nothing to chance “in the fight against terror and the protection of lives and property.”
For the last five years, Nigeria has battled a fierce Boko Haram insurgency that has ravaged the country’s volatile northeast region.
A seemingly emboldened Boko Haram recently stepped up its militant activity even further, seizing several areas in Nigeria’s Adamawa, Borno and Yobe – the three states worst hit by the insurgency and where the group has declared an “Islamic caliphate.”
Outlawed in Nigeria, Turkey and the United States, Boko Haram first emerged in the early 2000s preaching against government misrule and police corruption.
It became violent after the death of its leader in 2009 while in police custody.